Seedbank

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This article is about artificial seed repositories. For other uses, see Seed bank (disambiguation).
Seedbank at the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station

A seedbank (or seed bank) stores seeds as a source for planting in case seed reserves elsewhere are destroyed. It is a type of gene bank. The seeds stored may be food crops, or those of rare species to protect biodiversity. The reasons for storing seeds may be varied. In the case of food crops, many useful plants that were developed over centuries are now no longer used for commercial agricultural production and are becoming rare. Storing seeds also guards against catastrophic events like natural disasters, outbreaks of disease, or war. Unlike seed libraries or seed swaps that encourage frequent reuse and sharing of seeds, seedbanks are not typically open to the public.

Optimal storage conditions[edit]

Depending on the species, seeds are dried to a suitably low moisture content according to an appropriate protocol. Typically this will be less than 5%. The seeds then are stored at -18°C or below. Because seed DNA degrades with time, the seeds need to be periodically replanted and fresh seeds collected for another round of long-term storage.[1]

Challenges[edit]

Alternatives[edit]

In-situ conservation of seed-producing plant species is another conservation strategy. In-situ conservation involves the creation of National Parks, National Forests, and National Wildlife Refuges as a way of preserving the natural habitat of the targeted seed-producing organisms. In-situ conservation of agricultural resources is performed on-farm. This also allows the plants to continue to evolve with their environment through natural selection.

An arboretum stores trees by planting them at a protected site.

A less expensive, community-supported seed library can save local genetic material.[citation needed]

Longevity[edit]

Main article: Oldest viable seed

Seeds may be viable for hundreds and even thousands of years. The oldest carbon-14-dated seed that has grown into a viable plant was a Judean date palm seed about 2,000 years old, recovered from excavations at Herod the Great's palace in Israel.[2]

Recently (February 2012), Russian scientists announced they had regenerated a narrow leaf campion (Silene stenophylla) from a 32,000 year old seed. The seed was found in a burrow 124 feet under Siberian permafrost along with 800,000 other seeds. Seed tissue was grown in test tubes until it could be transplanted to soil. This shows how long DNA can be viable in the proper conditions [3]

Facilities[edit]

There are about 6 million accessions, or samples of a particular population, stored as seeds in about 1,300 genebanks throughout the world as of 2006.[citation needed] This amount represents a small fraction of the world's biodiversity, and many regions of the world have not been fully explored.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hong, T.D. and R.H. Ellis. 1996. A protocol to determine seed storage behaviour. IPGRI Technical Bulletin No. 1. (J.M.M. Engels and J. Toll, vol. eds.) International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy. ISBN 92-9043-279-9 [www.cbd.int/doc/case-studies/tttc/seedstorage.pdf]
  2. ^ National Geographic
  3. ^ Frier, Sarah (2012-02-20). "32,000-Year-Old Plant Reborn From Ancient Fruit Found in Siberian Ice". Bloomberg. 
  4. ^ a b c d Drori, Jonathan (posted May 2009, filmed February 2009). "Why we're storing billions of seeds". TED2009. TED. Retrieved 2011-12-11. 
  5. ^ UK Millennium Seed Bank Project
  6. ^ Work starts on Arctic seed vault
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Save the Seeds Movement of the Uttarakhand Himalayas, India
  9. ^ National Center for Genetic Resources Preservatio

External links[edit]